Texas is a beautiful state for walking. With a stunning variety of landscapes and a warm climate, it’s ideal for scenic hikes and meandering walking trails as well as for walking within communities to local destinations.
Walking is a healthy choice for the body and the environment, but when a vulnerable pedestrian and a 4,000-pound vehicle collide, the results can be catastrophic for the pedestrian. One in every five traffic-related deaths in Texas is a pedestrian fatality and the number of pedestrian accidents is on the rise.
It’s important for both drivers and pedestrians to carefully follow traffic laws and to remain alert and free from distractions, especially in crowded, high-traffic areas. While most habitual walkers know the basics of pedestrian safety—like crossing only in crosswalks and looking both ways—it’s important to brush up on Texas safety tips to minimize your risk of suffering serious injuries in a pedestrian accident.
How Pedestrians Can Protect Their Own Safety in High-Traffic Situations
Walking on or near a busy roadway automatically poses a danger to pedestrians, especially in today’s world of device distraction for both drivers and pedestrians. Keeping pedestrian safety tips in mind while walking in busy, high-traffic areas can help to minimize the risks. Some key tips for pedestrians in Texas include:
- Never jaywalk, but instead, always cross at a marked crosswalk
- Use the pedestrian signal buttons whenever one is present
- Look both ways before crossing, even at a crosswalk. It’s best to look left, then right, then left again before crossing
- Make eye contact with drivers before you cross to ensure that they are aware of your presence
- Walk on the right side of a marked crosswalk to leave space for those crossing from the other direction
- Exit vehicles on the curbside of the street and check both directions before exiting a bus
- Always use a sidewalk if one is present and if not, walk on the left side of the street facing oncoming traffic
- Stay in lighted areas when walking at night, carry a flashlight, and wear reflective clothing
- Don’t use noise-canceling headphones or earbuds while walking
- Finally, NEVER scroll while you stroll. Keep your phone in a pocket to avoid distraction. If you must answer a call or check a notification step aside to a safe location
Pedestrians should always remain vigilant, cross streets defensively, and never assume they have the right of way.
How Drivers Can Help Keep Pedestrians Safe
Ultimately, a driver always has the responsibility to protect vulnerable pedestrians, even when a pedestrian fails to yield when drivers have the right of way. When driving in high-traffic areas with pedestrians, Texas drivers should follow these important tips to keep pedestrians safe:
- Stop at crosswalks whenever pedestrians are present
- Yield the right of way to pedestrians when turning at an intersection
- Drive slowly and cautiously when passing stopped vehicles and buses in case pedestrians are exiting or crossing in front
- Carefully follow all traffic laws and obey all traffic signals
- Always avoid distractions while driving but particularly in areas with pedestrians
When both pedestrians and drivers rigidly adhere to all traffic laws, avoid distractions, and remain alert and vigilant, they can minimize the chances of a devastating accident.